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Argentina: The Masses Rise, a Government Collapses

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Protests, strikes and demonstrations by Argentina's workers against cuts and austerity forced the appointment of the fifth president in two weeks, Eduardo Duhalde, at the start of January.

Duhalde replaced Aldolfo Rodriguez Saá who took over at the end of December. Saá was unable to stop the country descending into further crisis. First he announced the government would cease payments on its £106 billion of public debt. This was the largest debt default by any country in history. He maintained a near total freeze on bank withdrawals to prevent a run on the banks by depositors. He also announced the creation of a 'third currency' - the argentino - that would float alongside the pesos and US dollars already in circulation.

Between the Lines

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Capita to process TV licence fees - Harry Potter and Coca Cola - Big increase in US military spending

The contract to process television licence fees has been awarded to Capita, the support services group. However Capita lost its contract with Lambeth council because of its failure to run the housing benefit scheme. Residents in both Lambeth and Westminster have lost their homes because of Capita's inefficiency, and Westminster still has a huge backlog of unprocessed claims.

Argentina: Sparking off a Chain Reaction

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Javier Carles reports from the streets of Argentina.

Tuesday, 18 December
IMF and US rejects financial help to Argentinia's government. Lootings of shops and supermarkets begin in provinces such as Rosario, and quickly spread. The reaction of the De La Rua government is to deny that there is any crisis and that the situation is under control but the looting continues.

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